Noncompliance on Nuclear-Arms Pact Is Alarming, Says Vatican

These Weapons Incompatible with Peace, Aide Tells U.N. Panel

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NEW YORK, APRIL 10, 2002 ( The Vatican expressed its concerns over the current backsliding in world disarmament, and described nuclear weapons as incompatible with peace in the 21st century.

The protest was voiced Monday by Monsignor Francis Chullikat, deputy head of the Holy See´s delegation to a U.N. committee. The preparatory committee for the 2005 review conference of the parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is being held from April 8-19.

Monsignor Chullikat pointed out in his address, published today by the Vatican Press Office, that only two years ago, the situation was very different.

«At the 2000 review, it was felt that progress was being made,» he said. «The review obtained a clear-cut commitment from the nuclear-weapon states that systematic and progressive efforts to implement Article VI would include ´An unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear-weapon states to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals leading to nuclear disarmament to which all states parties are committed under Article VI.´»

He added: «This commitment was embodied in a list of 13 practical steps the conference unanimously agreed to take.»

«However, the progress made in implementing the 13 steps over the past two years has been indeed discouraging,» the Vatican representative lamented. «In fact, the prospects for future implementation are alarming: There has not only been a lack of sufficient progress, there has been regression.»

He made a reference to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. «Although, thankfully, there has been no nuclear testing in this period, the entry-into-force of the CTBT cannot be seen on the near horizon,» the monsignor said.

«The conference on disarmament is paralyzed; one of the parties to the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty has given notice of withdrawal. Nuclear weapons are still kept on alert status,» Monsignor Chullikat revealed. And the «admonition of the International Court of Justice for the completion of negotiations towards elimination is ignored,» he said.

«Even more serious than the lack of progress is the overt determination of some nuclear-weapon states to maintain nuclear weapons in a critical role in their military doctrines,» Monsignor Chullikat continued.

«While the international community rightly welcomes the willingness of those with the most nuclear weapons to reduce their stocks of operationally deployed warheads, what is the real effect of such unilateral disarmament when it is not made irreversible, i.e., when such stocks can be remounted again quickly?» the Vatican representative asked.

The Vatican «is deeply concerned about the old posture of nuclear deterrence that is evolving into the possibility of use in new strategies. This must be stoutly resisted,» he stressed.

He added that «the Holy See has constantly recalled the fact that the strategy of deterrence can be envisaged only as a stage in the process aimed at disarmament, even of a progressive nature.»

«So long as it is taken as an end in itself, deterrence encourages the protagonists to ensure a constant superiority over one another, in a ceaseless race of over-arming,» Monsignor Chullikat said, also voicing the Vatican´s concern «in seeing the non-proliferation regime, with the NPT as its cornerstone, in disarray.»

«The old policies of nuclear deterrence, which prevailed in the Cold War, must lead now to concrete disarmament measures,» he insisted. «The rule of law cannot countenance the continuation of doctrines that hold nuclear weapons as essential.»

In his address, the Vatican representative referred to John Paul II´s call for the banning of all nuclear weapons through «a workable system for negotiation, even of arbitration.»

«Those nuclear-weapon states resisting negotiations should therefore be strongly urged to finally come to the negotiating table,» Monsignor Chullikat said.

«In this regard, my delegation wishes to reaffirm its well-known position: Nuclear weapons are incompatible with the peace we seek for the 21st century; they cannot be justified. These weapons are instruments of death and destruction,» the Vatican representative concluded.

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